Project letter to the editor, The Winnipeg Sun

As submitted

I am pleased to see that the Winnipeg Sun supports the principle that people should not have to dispense products that they find morally offensive. Your editorial (Pharmacological farce, 6 June, 2000) makes clear that conscientious objectors who refuse to sell cigarettes can count on your support, even though cigarettes are legal in Canada.

What remains unclear are the reasons why you insist on a two-tiered system of civil rights with respect to freedom of conscience: full rights for people who agree with you, like those who would refuse to sell cigarettes, and none for those who do not agree with you, like Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience.

However, the fact that you support the principle with respect to like-minded individuals suggests that a more tolerant and liberal attitude toward others may eventually prevail.

Contrary to the dismissive comment in your editorial, concerns that pharmacists may be forced to dispense drugs for assisted suicide and euthanasia are not misplaced. The College of Pharmacists of BC has put its members on notice about such possibilities. Legalization of assisted suicide, as well as execution by lethal injection, have led some pharmacists’ associations in the United States to adopt policies to protect conscientious objectors.

An attempt to force moral beliefs upon the populace? While that may be a fitting description of the Sun’s editorial, it is not the position of conscientious objectors. They simply do not wish to have the private morality of drug companies and newspaper editors forced upon them.

Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project


As Published

Objection sustained

I am pleased The Winnipeg Sun supports the principle that people should not have to dispense products they find morally offensive. Pharmacological Farce, June 6, makes clear that conscientious objectors who refuse to sell cigarettes can count on your support.

Why do you insist on full rights for people who agree with you, like those who won’t sell cigarettes, and none for those who do not agree with you, such as Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience.

The B.C. College of Pharmacists has warned members about the possibility of being forced to dispense drugs for assisted suicide and euthanasia. Legalizing assisted suicide and execution by lethal injection led U.S. pharmacist associations to protect conscientious objectors.

Conscientious objectors aren’t trying to force moral beliefs upon others. They simply do not wish to have the private morality of drug companies and newspaper editors forced upon them.

Pharmacy colleges quash conscientious objection

Canada

Greg J. Edwards

Pharmacists are critically thinking individuals who integrate their values into their work life-and they are not mere robots who are glorified order-takers for physicians. We should be promoting such thinking, not punishing it.–Nancy Metcalfe, pharmacist

Pharmacists are said to be the most trusted professionals in medicine; they’re conscientious; we rely on their discretion and their judgment; they have our confidence; we respect them; but do pharmacists respect themselves, let alone one another?

It’s a good question, because in Canada, pharmacists, unlike doctors, find that conscientious objection is a bitter pill for their professional licensing organizations to swallow.

The pharmacists’ governors pay lip service to a pharmacist’s right to refuse to dispense products, but, in fact, a customer’s convenience trumps a pharmacist’s freedoms of conscience and religion: pharmacists are free to object but in the end they must refer or otherwise help customers get the objectionable product. [Full text]

Freedom of Conscience Recognized

NEWS RELEASE

5 June, 2000

Protection of Conscience Project

Pharmacists in Manitoba have decided that they should not be forced to be involved in medical procedures that they find morally abhorrent.

The Annual General Meeting of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association adopted a policy that pharmacists may refuse to dispense certain drugs for reasons of conscience. Such  policies exist in the United States, but it is believed that this is the first time a  pharmacists’ association in Canada has formally recognized the importance of freedom of conscience.

News of the development was conveyed to the Protection of Conscience Project in a letter from Ronald F. Guse, Registrar of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association.

The Association rejected a clause that would have forced conscientious objectors to involve themselves by making a referral to another pharmacist.

“Pharmacists in Manitoba who voted for this measure should be congratulated and thanked by their colleagues,” said Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project. “The present concern among conscientious objectors is the so-called ‘morning-after-pill’. However, if non-objecting pharmacists do not support their colleagues on this issue, they should expect no support if they object to  dispensing drugs for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and execution by lethal injection.”

“If that seems somewhat far-fetched,” Murphy added, “the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia is already speculating about the expansion of pharmacy services to include such procedures.”

Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience supports Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association

News Release

Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience

The professional group Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience supports and applauds the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association’s courageous inclusion of a model statement in their Standards of Practice, which does not require pharmacists with conscientious objections to refer patients. Patient access to legally prescribed therapy would continue to be available without compromising the health professionals’ right of conscientious refusal.

Ms. Maria Bizecki, spokesperson for Concerned Pharmacists for Conscience, says “Pharmacists  in Manitoba can now exercise their freedom of conscience rights without fear for their noble livelihood. Pharmacists are presently objecting to participate as agents of death, not attempting to block access or give moral pep talks at the pharmacy counter.”

Bizecki futher added that as the Canadian Medical Association does not require doctors to participate in or refer for abortions, all pharmacists must also be protected     nationally by their associations. “By pushing their morality on health care workers, the public violates a pharmacist’s autonomy, integrity and basic human rights in  a country that protects its minorities.”

For further information: Ms. Maria Bizecki, spokesperson Tel: (403) 228-2190  Fax:(403) 228-2249